Bar codes consist of bars and spaces that vary in width. The bars and spaces on a bar code correspond to numbers and letters that represent descriptive data. Scanners scan the bar code to find the corresponding description of the item, including the make and model of an item and its price. Many stores and shops commonly use bar code technology for stock inventory. It’s also used to scan when a customer wants to purchase it. There are advantages and disadvantages regarding the use of bar code technology.
In the blink of an eye, scanning a bar code instantly displays the product name, type of product and price. Bar codes also have a 12-digit product number that when entered also produces the same information. However, if a cashier has a long line of impatient customers, entering the product details of each item is time-consuming, especially in grocery stores where each customer usually purchases multiple items. Although bar codes are a huge advantage when it comes to time, it can also be a disadvantage if the bar code on the product doesn’t correspond to the right product, or the bar code scanner isn’t working.
Inventory is a huge component of any goods and services business. Keeping track of inventory can be a tedious, time-consuming and difficult task to do without a bar code scanner. With a bar code scanner, shop owners simply scan the bar code on the items and keep track of the store’s inventory that way. When an individual purchases an item, the scanner transmits this information to the computer and it’s calculated on the stock inventory via computer technology. The major disadvantage here is if the cashier sees a number of items that look or seem the same and scans one item multiple times to save time. Each item and type of item has a unique bar code and must be scanned separately. As a result, this could affect inventory.
Labels make it easy for bar code scanners and computers to recognize the product item and vendor name. But when a label is damaged or non-existent, it poses problems. Damaged labels make it difficult for the cashier to scan. Even the 12-digit number on the label may be damaged to the point where it is not legible. When this occurs, the checkout process is significantly delayed while the same product is sought out and brought to the cashier for scanning. In addition, some products, such as fruits and vegetables at grocery stores, don’t have labels, which potentially cause delay. However, cashiers are usually trained to remember the 12-digit number corresponding to items without labels.
While bar code technology drastically reduces the time and energy spent on inventory and checkout procedures, it is costly. Businesses that want to implement bar code equipment and technology have to withstand the growing pains of doing so. This includes training employees, installing the equipment, expensive printers and the time spent entering codes for labels. However, despite the disadvantages with start-up, the bar code technology benefits businesses in the long run.
Krista Martin has been writing professionally since 2005. She has written for magazines, newspapers and websites including Live Listings, "Homes & Living" magazine and the "Metro Newspaper." Martin holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in English from Memorial University of Newfoundland and a Master of Journalism from the University of Westminster.